Trustees outline traits for new president


College of The Albemarle Board of Trustees Chairman Paul O'Neal (head of table, center) holds a copy of the presidential profile trustees plan to use for their search for a successor to departing COA President Kandi Deitemeyer. The trustees met Wednesday to fine-tune the document, which is now posted on COA's website.


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Friday, December 2, 2016

College of The Albemarle’s next president preferably will be someone with a doctorate from an accredited university or college, have a history as a successful senior administrator and experience teaching at the college level.

He or she also should have a track record of advocating for students, possess an entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to engage with businesses and community institutions, and have experience interacting with lawmakers and government officials at the local, state and federal levels.

That’s the profile COA trustees plan to use as they officially begin their search for a successor to President Kandi Deitemeyer, who is leaving at the end of this month to become the new president at Charlotte-based Central Piedmont Community College.

Trustees adopted the profile during a meeting Wednesday afternoon. It is now posted on COA’s website.

Trustees Chairman Paul O’Neal made clear the long-term impact the board’s choice of a new president will have on the college and the community.

“This is the most important thing that we will do as trustees because we’ll come and go and people will take our seats, but the college president is the face of this college,” O’Neal said. “And we need to make sure we do it right.”

A search committee comprised of some trustees, as well as faculty and staff and residents, met earlier on Wednesday to iron out details in the profile.

Later in the afternoon, the trustees fine-tuned the document so that the professional search firm trustees have hired, ACCT of Washington, D.C., can begin soliciting applications.

O’Neal told trustees the plan is to cast a broad net so that the college receives as many applications as possible. Being too specific in the presidential profile right now might result in only a small number of applications being received, he said.

Applications for the COA president’s job are due Jan. 17. After then the search committee will start reviewing the applications and determine which semi-finalists merit further consideration.

By mid-February, the committee will interview the semi-finalists, deliberate and present a list of finalists to the entire board of trustees for vetting and consideration.

The goal is to have the new president in place by mid-March.

Besides someone who’s an advocate for students, trustees said they want a president who has a strong commitment to community; someone committed to high performance standards for both students and staff; someone who’s a team-builder; someone who understands the specific educational needs of veterans, first-generation students and students from under-represented communities; someone committed to inclusion and diversity; someone with an understanding of managing large budgets; someone who understands the changing role of technology in education and can make technology needs a priority; someone with success in fundraising efforts, particularly with a college foundation; and someone who understands the accreditation process.

By saying they wanted someone with leadership at a senior administrative level, trustees said they were leaving open the door to consider someone who is not currently working in higher education.

Sentara Albemarle Medical Center President Coleen Santa Ana told fellow trustees there were other characteristics they needed to look for as well.

“Is (the next president) a thinker? Someone that can just motivate and inspire other people? Or is it someone that’s actually going to drive specific technical success?” Santa Ana asked.

Santa Ana said she wants make sure the COA board’s thoughts about the next president are lined up early and that the candidates being considered for the job can be matched to the board’s thought processes.

“There’s a lot of great leaders with lots of different personalities and characteristics, but when it boils down to who we think is going to be the most effective leader for where our vision is for the college, what does that look like?” she asked.

Santa Ana said the characteristics outlined in trustees’ profile didn’t strike her as exceptionally different from what one ordinarily looks for in a good leader.

“I think we’ve got to figure that out as a group,” Santa Ana said. “It’ll be easier to select down the road.”